World Cup 2018: England expects - but how do their rivals feel?

2018 Fifa World Cup last 16
Venue: Russia Dates: 30 June - 3 July
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, Red Button and iPlayer, BBC Sport website and app; listen on Radio 5 live; follow text updates online

"It's coming home."

As World Cup fever builds among England fans, that phrase has become something of a soundtrack to the tournament in Russia.

Having lifted the trophy in 1966, the Three Lions are the only previous winners in the bottom half of the draw, which is regarded as the easier route to the final in Moscow on 15 July.

And following Switzerland's last-16 exit to Sweden on Tuesday, England are now the highest ranked side left in the bottom half of the draw.

Sweden, runners-up in 1958, are the only other team in that section to have reached the final, with Colombia, Croatia and hosts Russia looking to get there for the first time.

Russian fans were dancing on the streets of Moscow after their shock victory over Spain, but were they singing pridot domoy (it's coming home) too?

BBC Monitoring has taken a look at the hype, or lack of, in the countries who could stand in England's way.

Colombia (16)

Colombia reached the knockout stage by finishing top of Group H, and have set their sights on spoiling England's party.

The South American side have had mixed results against European teams at the World Cup, winning three, drawing two and losing five.

But with James Rodriguez, Radamel Falcao and Juan Fernando Quintero in their ranks, they are a dangerous outfit, and reached the quarter-finals of the last World Cup in Brazil.

"Under the technical direction of Jose Pekerman, the Tricolor has gradually shaken off the dominating teams," says daily newspaper El Pais. "On Tuesday, it is time for England. Will the good streak under 'Don Jose' as a coach last?"

Elsewhere, fiebredefutbol.coexternal-link reflects on several of the big nations suffering shock exits, leaving the draw open.

"Colombia in the 'less difficult' part of the tournament?" it asks. "It would be silly to describe it as easy.

"The surprise elimination of champions Germany and other surprises like Croatia winning Group D over Argentina caused a change to the board, leaving one side of the table imbalanced compared to the other."

Croatia (20)

Croatia finished third at the 1998 World Cup in France and are widely regarded as the most dangerous team in the bottom half.

They won all three of their group games, including a 3-0 dismantling of two-time champions Argentina.

Then came a dramatic penalty shootout victory over Denmark - captain Luka Modric showing his character by taking a penalty in the shootout after missing one in extra time.

And there is plenty of optimism around the Croatian camp.

"In order to get to the end, one needs luck," said a commentary on "One needs to have balls to try again after missing the first time.

"Croatia has finally got rid of the last psychological barrier - an aura of doom which has followed the squad ever since Vienna [when Croatia lost to Turkey in a penalty shootout in the quarter-finals of Euro 2008]. It is finally on the scrapheap of history.

"The last reason is now gone for manager Zlatko Dalic and his squad not to embrace the favourable draw and say they are going to the end."

Should they beat Russia in the quarter-finals, Croatia will head to the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, which is hosting one semi-final and the final.

"We can already see Moscow through the binoculars," said a piece in Vecernji List online. "But we need to go to Sochi first where the host country Russia awaits.

"Croatia is still there and there is no stopping now."

Sweden (23)

It is fair to say they are not getting overly excited in Sweden. That is despite topping Group F - the one Germany were expected to win but finished bottom of.

Swedish Public Service TV has dampened any enthusiasm by quoting statisticians Gracenote who say Sweden have only a 3% chance of lifting the trophy.

Over the weekend, a columnist in tabloid newspaper Expressen appeared to be one of a few who dared hope Sweden will win, but the overriding sense is one of caution.

In the forest-covered province of Smaland, a local newspaperexternal-link asked people on the street what they thought.

They found no-one is uncorking the champagne - or even starting to cool it in the fridge.

"I think we'll beat Switzerland, and then we'll see," said a half-hearted local. They turned out to be right.

Russia (70)

Russia is gripped by World Cup fever.

The hosts are the lowest-ranked team in the tournament and were predicted to go out at the group stage, but have surprised even themselves how well they have done.

It was not pretty in the last-16 match against Spain - emerging victorious on a shootout - but belief has been heightened around the nation as they prepare to face Croatia on Saturday.

"Our team can win the World Cup," said Olympic swimmer Evgeny Korotyshkin,external-link who won silver in the 100m butterfly at London 2012. "All of Russia now believes that they are able to do. Even the Olympics didn't bring this much excitement to the country."

Football commentator Denis Kazansky told Business Gazeta:external-link "For me, this victory confirms that this is the most interesting World Cup with unpredictable results and where even teams without any star players can win.

"When Greece won the Euros in 2004, it seemed that another miracle could not reoccur. But I reckon that we can make this happen again in this World Cup."

Perhaps Russian former footballer Vladimir Klontsak put it best.

"The appetite comes with eating," he said. "At the beginning of the tournament everyone thought that making it past the group stage would be enough.

"Will we win the World Cup? Anything is possible!"


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